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Pilot's Timelapse
September 18, 2012 5:33 AM   Subscribe

The working week of a commercial pilot as seen from the cockpit A timelapse video showing takeoffs and landings from the pilot's perspective. Complete with squashed insects on the windscreen.
posted by jontyjago (33 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was really awesome. Especially at the first airport I was like "no, kill it with fire!" because it's so evocative of the oppressive blandness and bureaucracy but when he gets into the air....wow.
posted by DU at 5:46 AM on September 18, 2012


Very cool. I should do one of these from my train driver's cab. Then the world could see the glum faces lined up along the platform at Clapham Junction during the morning rush hour. And the teenagers on footbridges giving me the finger. And the occasional pheasant exploding against the windscreen. Some of the countryside is nice, too.
posted by Decani at 5:53 AM on September 18, 2012 [29 favorites]


Decani, I would watch the hell out of that! It's such a small change of perspective but for me it totally transforms the experience, especially one that I know very well from a passenger's point of view, like dear ole Clapham Junction.
posted by jontyjago at 6:04 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should do one of these from my train driver's cab.

Oh my god, yes, you should do that.
posted by wachhundfisch at 6:05 AM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I kept wanting to reach through and wipe that smudge off the windshield.

And I know they have stuff like radar and all, but any time he went through the clouds, I braced myself to see another plane or a mountain goat.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:10 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I was a pilot, I'd aim for all the awesome clouds. That's why I'm not a pilot.
posted by hanoixan at 6:12 AM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really dig this. After a lifetime of loving to fly, it seems that turning 40 has not brought a need for reading glasses (yet), but it has delivered a sudden and pathological fear of flying. We flew from Austin to Vegas at the end of July and on the return flight home I was just petrified. The turbulence scared the crap out of me - I can't for the life of me understand where all that fear came from. For the first time in my life, I was white-knuckling it on the plane, wondering if I should ask for some booze on our 7 AM flight.

This video was actually a little hard for me to watch at first, but it serves as a reminder that these guys know what the hell they're doing. I feel better!
posted by PuppyCat at 6:14 AM on September 18, 2012


That was neat and a half.

For once though, instead of adult contemporary techno-lite, I'd like a video such as this to be soundtracked by something along the lines of Merzbow. Industrial noise for industry.
posted by item at 6:14 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife can always tell when I'm watching airplane videos because they almost invariable have the crappiest music.
posted by exogenous at 6:16 AM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I was a pilot, I'd aim for all the awesome clouds. That's why I'm not a pilot.

See, I was gonna ask about that... what level of freedom do commercial pilots have when determining their flight paths? Early in the video the jet is approaching a notch in a cloud bank, and the kid in me instantly thought "OH COOL GO FOR THE NOTCH" and sure enough, the plane split it right down the middle, and suddenly I was left wondering if the pilot(s) consciously chose to direct the plane through that notch, and if so whether that choice was made for practical purposes or just because it was super cool. Having flown some small airplanes I know that you've got some latitude to do stuff like that (depending on where you're flying, I'm sure), but I was curious whether commercial pilots enjoy a similar freedom to indulge whimsy like that.

Also, thanks for posting this, what an enjoyable video!
posted by saladin at 6:31 AM on September 18, 2012


You know, I fly a whole lot for my job, and sometimes when we take off it feels like nothing but the collective belief of the passengers is lifting that giant metal hulk off the ground.

Air travel is so beautiful and unlikely. Too bad it's one of the most ecologically destructive industries in the world.
posted by Mooseli at 6:32 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno, Mooseli, my guess would have been that all those roads and cars were collectively far more destructive than tiny airports spaced hundreds of miles apart.
posted by zug at 7:12 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was great. I have always loved to fly (as a passenger) because of the way the sky becomes a sort of landscape, and the clouds seem so tangible. But there's something special about seeing flight from the front of the plane. The same way that, as a subway commuter, I get used to seeing the stations go by sideways, and then if I stand at the front of the train looking through the front window, it's suddenly more fascinating.

It was especially interesting to me that it felt like the plane was going faster when it was on the runway than it did when it was in the air. I think it's because of the runway markings - they go by so quickly because they're close. Whereas when you're all the way up, things move more slowly because they're further away, and it feels like you're just gliding.
posted by marginaliana at 7:12 AM on September 18, 2012


Having only just seen recently the movie Chronicle being up in the clouds with an almost 1st person viewpoint was totally awesome.

Also, it seems that scene from Airplane! with the old gas station full service attendant was meant to be literal.
posted by PapaLobo at 7:36 AM on September 18, 2012


zug: the big eco disaster with air travel is the way all that carbon and stuff is dumped in the upper atmosphere. But perhaps worse is the way condensing contrails alter the planetary albedo by creating clouds where none were before. I think flying is neat but hopefully there will be less need to move people around in big airliners as time goes on and connectivity improves.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:04 AM on September 18, 2012


If I was a pilot, I'd aim for all the awesome clouds. That's why I'm not a pilot.

Nah, that's pretty much why I'm a pilot.

what level of freedom do commercial pilots have when determining their flight paths?

Depends, really. Most airlines have standard operating procedures along the lines of "turn on the autopilot and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE".
posted by backseatpilot at 8:17 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


A fighter pilot I knew - I think he was a Tornado mate - said that the best bit of his job was taking off from a grey, rainy, dark runway, pointing the nose up, giving it some welly and bursting through to the blue skies and sun above. He'd spent a lot of time at the Scottish air bases, so he knew whereof he spoke.

I am, by the way, the very worst passenger to sit next to on commercial flights if you are a nervous flyer (possibly if you're not, but anyway...). Being a considerable aviation nerd and a great believer in statistics and engineering, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good burst of turbulence or any out-of-the-ordinary incident during flight. The hairier the better. I'm also liable to say things like "Ah, the -400... safe as houses after that last retrofit to the oil feed..." or "It's amazing that something this old can still be flying, isn't it?".

Count the seats to your nearest exit, and keep your seatbelt fastened. You'll be fine.
posted by Devonian at 8:49 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


hopefully there will be less need to move people around in big airliners as time goes on and connectivity improves.

I hope not. I'd love to see air travel be made as accessible as a form of public transit. Of course, I think existing public transit needs to be exponentially more accessible first, but still. Cleaner, more efficient airplanes? You betcha. Less travel and fewer opportunities for people to visit and touch different parts of the Earth? Not on my vote.

Neat FPP. Thanks for posting.
posted by cribcage at 9:25 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should do one of these from my train driver's cab.

Yes, you should. Go now. We'll wait here.
posted by dry white toast at 10:07 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


wow, I've never seen anything like that 1km displaced threshold at fuerteventura.
(the white arrows leading up to the numbers he lands on. they're usually a few hundred feet for obstacles, but not there)
posted by tiaz at 10:13 AM on September 18, 2012


I'd love to see air travel be made as accessible as a form of public transit.

How is air travel not public transit? I commute 500 km to work once or twice a month, and doing so by plane costs me maybe twice as much as doing it by train.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:27 AM on September 18, 2012


Prague has only one runway? waddayaknow?
posted by humboldt32 at 11:02 AM on September 18, 2012


Decani, I would watch that video so hard. I would probably do it while riding your very train, if you run the Southern routes.
posted by generichuman at 12:15 PM on September 18, 2012


Prague has only one runway? waddayaknow?

Hmmm, there's two... and a third that's only used for parking nowadays.
posted by LucVdB at 12:33 PM on September 18, 2012


Oooh, the clouds! I know you only see a tiny bit of them from your window and it's all cramped and every time you're in a plan you'd really rather be somewhere else but I can't help but love the fact that we can fly. In the clouds.

For those asking for a train cab version - how about this 7.5 hour long Norwegian footage from their gorgeous Bergensbanen?
posted by harujion at 12:43 PM on September 18, 2012


zug: the big eco disaster with air travel is the way all that carbon and stuff is dumped in the upper atmosphere. But perhaps worse is the way condensing contrails alter the planetary albedo by creating clouds where none were before. I think flying is neat but hopefully there will be less need to move people around in big airliners as time goes on and connectivity improves.

I am aware. The carbon footprint for air travel is quite large, on a per person basis. But I'd bet you dollars to donuts that ground transportation is far, far more ecologically destructive. It's a much larger industry, spread out over much greater space, and has displaced countless species.
posted by zug at 12:45 PM on September 18, 2012


Is this guy going to get in trouble? 'Normal' people aren't allowed to use a (video)camera during take off and landing...
posted by RobHoi at 1:27 PM on September 18, 2012


tiaz, you are clearly an air travel nerd - I was thinking exactly the same thing!

RobHoi: probably not. I've seen similar footage from passenger flights, and freight operates under different rules.
posted by scolbath at 1:39 PM on September 18, 2012


Go little car! Hurry! I hoped that the plane would not run over the pilot car in Fuerteventura where the route to the buildings was so complex.
Those big whipped cream clouds in Prague - looked good enough to eat.
posted by Cranberry at 1:48 PM on September 18, 2012


OMG Landing. I know it's sped up 8x but, arrgh, it's lucky they even find that tiny little strip and did you notice how they don't always hit it exact on? I'm now picturing the next plane I fly in aqua-planing (see what I did there), into a skid and arriving at the terminal a little early and side on.
posted by b33j at 4:55 PM on September 18, 2012


I am, by the way, the very worst passenger to sit next to on commercial flights if you are a nervous flyer (possibly if you're not, but anyway...). Being a considerable aviation nerd and a great believer in statistics and engineering,

A few years ago I flew cross-country on an NWA 757. I was seated next to friendly guy who was traveling alone. Our seats were just forward of the wing, so we can see the massive wide 757 engine nacelle poking out from under the wing.

I forget how we got talking, but at one point I marveled at how amazing it was that all those tons of hot spinning engine could be suspended from that comparatively narrow wing, and that the strut was also strong enough to allow the engine to pull many more tons of jet up to 30,000 feet at 500 miles an hour.

Seatmate said to me, "Well, if you ever see it fall off, don't panic -- that means it's working as designed."

The guy was a plane tester at Boeing. He explained that there's enough torque inside those giant-ass engines to wrench the wing into a paperclip if something gets unbalanced and/or turning wrong. So the strut is designed to fail first. The engine falls off harmlessly into Donny Darko's bedroom while the plane sails on and makes a one-engine landing.

I have thought about this story every time I've flown since.
posted by Sauce Trough at 4:58 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

posted by Decani at 5:53 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sauce Trough - the engines are held on by pins. Around the size of a coke can. That's what lets them go if the wrong sort of torque suddenly appears.

So while you're up there in your 747 - remember. Coke cans.

(Another thought - "please extinguish all smoking materials" on the landing PA. Wonder how long before it passes beyond memory. Best flights ever were Air France transatlantic, where there was basically a stew/passenger party going on at the back all the way across, a-smokin' and a-drinkin' and a-flirtin'.)
posted by Devonian at 5:54 PM on September 18, 2012


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